A Remarkable Report on Wounded Knee Massacre from Heather Cox Richardson MUST READ, Plus…

Mick Nickel is a regular contributor in our comments and for yesterday’s post, he commented with a series of definitions of Socialism-Liberalism-Individualism-Freedom and we offer that below, HCR on Wounded Knee. Read on!

Georgia Is Always on My Mind: With one week to go until the Georgia election, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it and encourage you to devote time over the next week to this campaign. The polls shift slightly day to day, but the trend remains constant, two virtual ties and two runoffs of incalculable import. Click here for ways you can donate your time or funds.

Statewide Senate District Team Strategy Session: 3:30pm today. An equal number selected 3 pm and 4pm for our zoom today, so I am meeting in the middle. at 3:30pm. Find out how you can become involved in our statewide legislative strategy, meet some great folks who are leading the effort, and find out about our Zoom with Senator Stewart last week and plans for other constituent-Senator teams in advance of the session. You must pre-register by clicking here.

Heather Cox Richardson: One of Her Best

Roxanne and I start our day every morning with Heather Cox Richardson. She writes her piece every day, in the dead of night and posts it around 2 or 3 am MT. No one is better able to analyze what happened the day before and put it in historical, political or cultural context. You read not just what happened, but are able to see the moving parts of 2020 chaos in a historic context that is often very illuminating.

We are not alone in recognizing the value of HCR’s work, yesterday NYTs piece on HCR offered this byline.

“She is the breakout star of the newsletter platform Substack, doing the opposite of most media as she calmly situates the news of the day in the long sweep of American history”

From The New York Times: “Heather Cox Richardson Offers a Break From the Media Maelstrom. It’s Working

I often use the News In Brief feature to highlight her work, frequently including an extended excerpt to invite interest. But today’s post is just too good, and so I offer it verbatim, with a link at the end, as I hope it entices more of you to subscribe to he newsletter and start your morning with HCR. I hope folks understand that we are not trying to expropriate HCR’s excellent work, but rather to pay tribute to it and encourage others to read her daily.

Letters from an American: September 28, 2020,
Heather Cox Richardson On Wounded Knee

Wounded Knee

I will fill in today’s news tomorrow, because there is nothing that cannot wait, and today, and tomorrow, are anniversaries….

On the clear, cold morning of December 29, 1890, on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, three U.S. soldiers tried to wrench a valuable Winchester away from a young Lakota man. He refused to give up his hunting weapon; it was the only thing standing between his family and starvation. As the men struggled, the gun fired into the sky.

Before the echoes died, troops fired a volley that brought down half of the Lakota men and boys the soldiers had captured the night before, as well as a number of soldiers surrounding the Lakotas. The uninjured Lakota men attacked the soldiers with knives, guns they snatched from wounded soldiers, and their fists.

As the men fought hand-to-hand, the Lakota women who had been hitching their horses to wagons for the day’s travel tried to flee along the nearby road or up a dry ravine behind the camp. The soldiers on a slight rise above the camp turned rapid-fire mountain guns on them. Then, over the next two hours, troops on horseback hunted down and slaughtered all the Lakotas they could find: about 250 men, women, and children.

But it is not December 29 that haunts me. It is the night of December 28, the night before the killing.

On December 28, there was still time to avert the Wounded Knee Massacre.

In the early afternoon, the Lakota leader Big Foot– Sitanka– had urged his people to surrender to the soldiers looking for them. Sitanka was desperately ill with pneumonia and the people in his band were hungry, underdressed, and exhausted. They were making their way south across South Dakota from their own reservation in the northern part of the state to the Pine Ridge Reservation. There, they planned to take shelter with another famous Lakota chief, Red Cloud. His people had done as Sitanka asked, and the soldiers escorted the Lakotas to a camp on South Dakota’s Wounded Knee Creek, inside the boundaries of the Pine Ridge Reservation.

For the soldiers, the surrender of Sitanka’s band marked the end of the Ghost Dance Uprising. It had been a tense month. Troops had pushed into the South Dakota reservations in November, prompting a band of terrified men who had embraced the Ghost Dance religion to gather their wives and children and ride out to the Badlands. But, at long last, army officers and negotiators had convinced those Ghost Dancers to go back to Pine Ridge and turn themselves in to authorities before winter hit in earnest.

Sitanka’s people were not part of the Badlands group and, for the most part, were not Ghost Dancers. They had fled from their own northern reservation two weeks before when they learned that officers had murdered the great leader Sitting Bull in his own home. Army officers were anxious to find and corral Sitanka’s missing Lakotas before they carried the news that Sitting Bull had been killed to those who had taken refuge in the Badlands. Army leaders were certain the information would spook the Ghost Dancers and send them flying back to the Badlands. They were determined to make sure the two bands did not meet.

But South Dakota is a big state, and it was not until late in the afternoon of December 28 that the soldiers finally made contact with Sitanka’s band, and it didn’t go quite as the officers planned: a group of soldiers were watering their horses in a stream when some of the traveling Lakotas surprised them. The Indians let the soldiers go, and the men promptly reported to their officers, who marched on the Lakotas as if they were going to war. Sitanka, who had always gotten along well with army officers, assured the commander that the Indians were on their way to Pine Ridge anyway, and asked his men to surrender unconditionally. They did.

By this time, Sitanka was so ill he couldn’t sit up and his nose was dripping blood. Soldiers lifted him into an army ambulance—an old wagon– for the trip to the Wounded Knee camp. His ragtag band followed behind. Once there, the soldiers gave the Lakotas an evening ration, and lent army tents to those who wanted them. Then the soldiers settled into guarding the camp.

And they celebrated, for they were heroes of a great war, and it had been bloodless, and now, with the Lakota’s surrender, they would be demobilized back to their home bases before the South Dakota winter closed in. As they celebrated, more and more troops poured in. It had been a long hunt across South Dakota for Sitanka and his band, and officers were determined the group would not escape them again. In came the Seventh Cavalry, whose men had not forgotten that their former leader George Armstrong Custer had been killed by a band of Lakota in 1876. In came three mountain guns, which the soldiers trained on the Indian encampment from a slight rise above the camp.

For their part, the Lakotas were frightened. If their surrender was welcome and they were going to go with the soldiers to Red Cloud at Pine Ridge, as they had planned all along, why were there so many soldiers, with so many guns?

On this day and hour in 1890, in the cold and dark of a South Dakota December night, there were soldiers drinking, singing and visiting with each other, and anxious Indians either talking to each other in low voices or trying to sleep. No one knew what the next day would bring, but no one expected what was going to happen.

One of the curses of history is that we cannot go back and change the course leading to disasters, no matter how much we might wish to. The past has its own terrible inevitability.

But it is never too late to change the future.

Heather Cox Richardson

To subscribe to HCR, click here. Give yourself the gift of HCR’s insights, just $5/month.

Meanwhile in NM

HCR is excellent at putting current events into historic context. Today, KOB TV broadcast captures a park ranger assault on Darrell House, a Native American and Marine veteran, who was praying at the Petroglyph National Monument in NM. Others on the trail video-taped the assault. It is tough to watch, but brings HCR’s historic reflections to the present. Click here to read the story, hear House’s comments and view the ranger’s repeated tasing of House.

Defining Our Terms: Socialism, Liberalism, Individualism, Democracy. A Good Place to Start the Conversation

Thank you, Mick Nickel for gathering these terms. It is a helpful summary that ascribes clarity to some concepts that raise passions and are too often misrepresented. From Mick:

From National Geographic – The ancient Greeks were the first to create a democracy. The word “democracy” comes from two Greek words that mean people (demos) and rule (kratos). . . In addition, it supports the idea that the people can replace their government through peaceful transfers of power rather than violent uprising or revolution. Thus, a key part of democracy is that the people have a voice.

Athenian democracy developed around the fifth century B.C.E. The Greek idea of democracy was different from present-day democracy because, in Athens, all adult citizens were required to take an active part in the government. If they did not fulfill their duty they would be fined and sometimes marked with red paint. . . Each year 500 names were chosen from all the citizens of ancient Athens. Those 500 citizens had to actively serve in the government for one year. During that year, they were responsible for making new laws and controlled all parts of the political process. When a new law was proposed, all the citizens of Athens had the opportunity to vote on it. To vote, citizens had to attend the assembly on the day the vote took place. This form of government is called direct democracy.

My add – In Athens, free men did not include women, children, slaves or people from other lands.

From Wikipedia – Socialism was coined by Henri de Saint-Simon, one of the founders of what would later be labelled utopian socialism. Simon contrasted it to the liberal doctrine of individualism that emphasized the moral worth of the individual whilst stressing that people act or should act as if they are in isolation from one another. The original utopian socialists condemned this doctrine of individualism for failing to address social concerns during the Industrial Revolution, including poverty, oppression and vast wealth inequality. They viewed their society as harming community life by basing society on competition. They presented socialism as an alternative to liberal individualism based on the shared ownership of resources.[61] Saint-Simon proposed economic planning, scientific administration and the application of scientific understanding to the organisation of society.

For Andrew Vincent, “[t]he word ‘socialism’ finds its root in the Latin sociare, which means to combine or to share. The related, more technical term in Roman and then medieval law was societas. This latter word could mean companionship and fellowship as well as the more legalistic idea of a consensual contract between freemen”.[60]

More from Wiki – While the emergence of the Soviet Union as the world’s first nominally socialist state led to socialism’s widespread association with the Soviet economic model, some economists and intellectuals argued that in practice the model functioned as a form of state capitalism[51][52][53] or a non-planned administrative or command economy.[54][55] Academics, political commentators and other scholars tend to distinguish between authoritarian socialist and democratic socialist states, with the first representing the Soviet Bloc and the latter representing Western Bloc countries which have been democratically governed by socialist parties such as Britain, France, Sweden and Western social-democracies in general, among others.[56][57][58][59]

From tutor2u.net – Individualism (Liberalism) Individualism is the beating heart of liberal ideology, and nowhere is this more apparent than in the relationship between the individual and the state. Liberalism is a term which derives from the Latin word “liber” meaning free men.

From the free dictionary.com – A prominent rights-based theory is what is known as liberal individualism. teleological theory a type of ethical theory that takes judgments of the value of the consequences of action as basic.

My add – Among other things, liberalism relies on the acknowledgment of ownership, capitalism, free markets instead of mercantilism, representative democracy versus true citizen democracy and competition to resolve who ‘wins’ certain rights and who loses those rights.

Also read up on John Locke, Robert Owen, Rosseau (especially the claim of ownership) and Karl Marx (private vs. personal property).

When you have caught your breath, please read some practical commentary of The four Noble Truths of Buddhism, followed by The Eightfold Path.

If you can find your open mind, you will realize that ANY form of responsibility involves the awareness of compassion and its constant practice.

Without personal responsibility, freedom is just another word for savagery.

This is my starting dialogue on the topics you presented and the questions you asked in the previous post – what to do and how to do it.

Mick Nickel

And if you failed to catch yesterday’s post and the excerpt from and reference to YES! Magazine’s excellent piece on “10 Things You Should Know About Socialism,” it is a short piece that is eminently worth your time. We need to better understand the concepts behind socialism and the significant difference between life in a world defined by freedom and individualism versus one defined by community and sharing.

In response to Robert Baroody’s comment yesterday about how difficult it is to envision our capitalist nation doing a 180 and shifting to a sharing economy, I couldn’t agree more. And that is why Retake focuses on NM and local communities rather than petition the powers that be in DC.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Indigenous Rights

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4 replies

  1. If I may, I’d like to plug http://electoral-vote.com as another resource for daily insight into the moving parts of 2020 chaos in a historic context. One of the authors is a card-carrying history professor; the other is a computer science prof and data maven teaching in The Netherlands.

  2. Thanks to Mick Nickel for helping sort of some of our terminology. I want to amplify on his description of Greek democracy, where in Athens every eligible citizen was expected to participate directly in decisionmaking, and members of juries and other bodies were chosen by lot. This sounds unworkable and archaic to us, and it probably can’t be replicated in a huge country like ours. But there is one characteristic that is worth considering and adapting to our use now—the practice of choosing legislatures by lot rather than election. This process is called ‘sortition,’ and you can learn more about it here: https://www.sortitionfoundation.org/citizens_assembly#where

    A well-designed sortition process solves some of the defects of our current electoral system. It produces a genuinely representative body, with women and minorities and the poor all taking part in proportion to their presence in the population. We all know that elections tend to privilege people who have money, who are glib-tongued, who are taller, who have more education. These are not necessarily characteristics that lead to better or more equitable decisions.

    We might apply soritition at the local level for bodies like school boards, advisory councils, and the like, for starters. We would hear from new and under-represented voices. Think about it.

  3. mailto:vanessa_lacayo@nps.gov Go read the article and send an email to Vanessa Lacayo at the National Park Service to demand justice for this Native man. I am White and I visit national monuments/parks at least once a month. In 50 years I’ve never been asked for my ID, not even when camping or being in special permit areas. This is racial profiling. Thank God the ranger wasn’t “trained” to carry a gun.


  1. Examining what 2016-2020 Means for 2021 Plus Shocking New GA Polls & What You Can Do! – Retake Our Democracy

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